Maryville and Knoxville, TN
We are frequently asked about certain dental procedures, typical diseases, and other dental related topics. We put together some basic information that will hopefully answer some of those questions.
Dental health begins with good oral hygiene. This requires professional care and guidance provided by us, combined with proper care at home by you. When you follow our recommended home care routine and have regular professional care, you will be able to maintain healthier teeth and gums. When you do your part at home for 365 days a year, it makes the few visits to our office that much more enjoyable.
Why do I need a professional cleaning?
Professional cleaning removes plaque, calculus (tartar), and stain from your teeth. The cleaning is done by a dental professional in the dental office and we provide education in proper care of the teeth and gums.
Plaque and Tartar
What is plaque?
Plaque is a soft, sticky, colorless film of bacteria constantly forming on your teeth. It combines with sugar and other carbohydrates to form acids, which attack tooth enamel that can cause cavities.
Plaque can also cause inflammation of the gums (gingivitis), which can result in swollen and bleeding gums. If not treated early, gingivitis can lead to periodontitis, a more serious condition that causes gums to recede and bone to deteriorate. As a result, the supporting structures are weakened and teeth become loose. It’s easy to see why brushing and flossing to remove plaque is essential to keep your teeth and gums healthy.
What is tartar?
Minerals in saliva combine with plaque at the tooth surface and harden into a rough, unsightly deposit called calculus (tartar). Calculus, which is mostly mineral, provides a rough surface to which more plaque can attach, and makes thorough plaque removal more difficult. Your toothbrush and floss can’t remove calculus once it has formed and it can only be removed during a regular dental prophylaxis.
What does a professional cleaning do that I can’t do for myself?
A prophylaxis is a professional cleaning procedure that can be done only by a dentist or hygienist. The prophylaxis not only helps prevent gum disease, but also improves the appearance of your teeth by making them look clean and bright. A prophylaxis is usually performed in two steps. Instruments called scalers are used to remove calculus from teeth above and below the gumline. Then polishing with a special paste, by means of a motorized instrument, removes the remaining plaque and surface stains caused by various foods, beverages, tobacco, etc. A polished tooth surface makes it more difficult for plaque and debris to accumulate.
You can help improve your oral hygiene by making plaque control part of your daily routine. Proper brushing helps remove plaque from the outer, inner and chewing surfaces of your teeth. Flossing thoroughly helps remove plaque and debris from between the teeth, especially in hard-to-reach areas and slightly under the gumline.